I would like to thank Tim Mutrie for his article concerning NEPA deficiencies in Thompson Divide leases (“BLM: Problems exist in some Divide gas leases,” Aspen Daily News, June 10). It is important to be thorough and thoughtful when contemplating drilling in any location.
It is ironic that Mr. Guinn of SG Interests (a Houston-based oil and gas company with leases in the Thompson Divide area) would claim that the work of protecting unique lands is “politicized” when his company has been donating large sums of money to local and state races in Colorado to back the candidates who will support development over all other interests. Isn’t this the “pot calling the kettle black?”
Mr. Ludlam, director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association claims the “high concentration of influential aristocrats [in Pitkin County]… just pushes gas development downvalley to people who don’t have the money and power to fight it.” Again, how ironic, when Mr. Ludlam represents one of the wealthiest industries in the world. Don’t we all wish we had the resources to challenge powerful industries impacting our lands? However, in this case, to claim that protection is being purchased by the wealthy is nonsense; ranchers and business owners in the tourism and recreation industries have taken the lead on the effort to protect lands in the Thompson Divide area; these are working people trying to protect their thriving businesses, the lands that thousands of people travel from around the world to visit, and ultimately their way of life.
SG interests must understand that drilling in the Rocky Mountains warrants a great deal of scrutiny. Because of the vast pristine and majestic landscape in the West, the long-term economies that have been created around these lands (tourism, recreation, hunting, agriculture) and our lack of water in the West, a thoughtful planning process must guide our determination of where and how to access oil and gas resources. Some lands will never be compatible with such development because of their importance to the economic well-being of current and future generations and to the environment, including wildlife.
It would probably make sense for SG Interests to sit down at the table with the Thompson Divide Coalition, negotiate a price for the leases they hold and reinvest in an area that is more compatible with drilling. Protecting lands with unique natural values is not a wrong move, but a prudent one with long-term insight.